Three years ago, in June 2008, Trion Worlds and the Sy Fy Network announced that they would be doing something never done before - they would be synergizing an MMO and a television series at the same time. There would be no division between the two - it would not be an MMO based on a television series, nor would it be a television series based on an MMO. In fact, both would be intertwined - events in the show would be reflected in the MMO, and vice versa. Not totally, since the MMO is based in San Francisco while the show is centered in St. Louis. The MMO is called Defiance.
It came to SF, seeking gentle (and moist and tender) people there.
Defiance is unique among MMO concepts in many ways, or at the very least, it's treading paths that are not very well worn. The first thing that sets it apart is that it's a science fiction game, but it takes place on Earth, will real world locations, so players can expect to visit such San Francisco landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge.
This Earth isn't too familiar, however. Taking place in the near future, it represents a time when aliens have arrived and have begun to terraform the planet to their liking, so expect a bizarre melding of indigenous Earth plants and animals interacting with strange alien flora and fauna. Humans are trying to stop the aliens from changing the Earth, so many missions come from, say, preventing terraforming equipment from arriving in one piece.
The other aspect of the game that makes it more unique is that it's a first person shooter. Only one MMOFPS has ever seen any level of success, Planetside, and that wasn't a true shooter - it was more like mass battles on various levels (er, planetary regions) with persistant stats and ownership. Defiance promises to be a true MMO through and through, and even if the player isn't good at twitch shooters, there are plenty of class options to allow them to contribute as support.
Definitely not native Earth fauna.
In addition, the game operates on a public mission sort of mechanic, so there's no need to form a party. Missions happen in the open world, and players can dynamically join others to complete goals. Trion Worlds has been mum, however, on PvP content, but there probably will be some in some form when the game is released.
Finally, the MMO will be released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in addition to PC, and console MMOs have generally not fared well at all. Huxley is perhaps the poster child for console MMOFPS vaporware failure, though it hasn't appeared on PC as well. It'll be interesting to see if this MMO can actually make it to console - the possibility of it appearing on the next generation of consoles is a distinct possibility.
It'll be interesting to see how an MMO like Defiance fares. It has been developed to work in concert with a television show from the ground up. What little that has been seen has been impressive, and hopefully, this will be all that it promises to be: a beautiful massively multiplayer shooter with a deep backstory that players can enjoy playing, then watching an exciting tie-in story on the screen.
About Jonah A. Falcon
Gaming since 1977, Jonah burned out on videogames several times, but fortunately is back in the manic phase of his hobby.